Randy Bachman to be reunited with Gretsch guitar 45 years after theft

Thanks to an internet sleuth takin’ care of business, Randy Bachman will be reunited with the guitar he used to compose some of the most memorable hits of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

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The Canadian-born rock star said his 1957 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins guitar was stolen in 1976 and he never expected to get it back.

The guitar, which Bachman used to write “American Woman,” “No Sugar Tonight,” and “Takin’ Care of Business,” was stolen from a Toronto-area hotel and recently resurfaced in Tokyo, CBC reported.

Bachman said the orange Gretsch was his first really expensive guitar, and he had to work hard to earn the $400 to buy it.

“It was just terrible,” Bachman told the news organization. “I cried for literally all night. ... I loved this guitar so much.”

However, a fan’s creative use of facial recognition software helped track down the instrument, the news service reported.

William Long came across a video of Bachman discussing the guitar after listening to some The Guess Who songs on YouTube and decided to join the hunt for the guitar, CNN reported.

“My wife does jigsaw puzzles on the internet, and I thought, ‘I prefer to do real-life puzzles,’” Long told the news network.

Long used the internet to find photos of every orange Gretsch he could find and compared them to a video of Bachman playing the BTO song “Lookin’ Out For #1″ on Dutch television, CNN reported.

“I probably went through maybe 300 Gretsch images and I got pretty good at it so I could see them and I could know right away that it wasn’t it,” Long told CNN. “So, it’s eliminate, eliminate, eliminate, eliminate.”

Long’s hard work paid off. He tracked the guitar to a vintage guitar shop in Tokyo, and then he found an obscure YouTube video posted on Christmas Eve 2019, CTV News reported. The 11-minute clip featured Japanese musician Takeshi playing Christmas songs on the Grestch at a Tokyo restaurant, the website reported.

“The minute I saw it, I knew (it), “Bachman told CBC. “(He was) singing ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’ with the rockabilly.”

A videoconference call was arranged through Takeshi’s representative, CTV News reported. Takeshi does not speak English, but Bachman’s soon-to-be daughter-in-law, KoKo, is fluent in English and Japanese.

“So it was kind of like the United Nations because we’re here in my living room and Takeshi is there in Japan with his manager and I say hello and then we stop and (KoKo) translates it into Japanese and then he asks a question and she translates it back,” Bachman told the news organization.

A few minutes into the call, Takeshi pulled the guitar out to show it to Bachman.

“I am absolutely struck right in my chest, like an electric shock,” Bachman told CTV News. “This is my guitar, and it looks one day older than when it was stolen. Whoever had it, loved it and took care of it.”

After some negotiations, Takeshi agreed to send Bachman the guitar, but told him, “You have to find its sister,” meaning the same make, model, color, condition, year and factory specifications, CTV News reported.

Gretsch made fewer than 40 of these guitars in 1957, but luck was with Bachman, who found one at a rare guitar shop in Ohio, the network reported.

“The serial number is two digits off from mine,” Bachman told CTV News. “Which means it was made in the same week.”

Takeshi said in a statement that he is “honored and proud to be the one who can finally return this stolen guitar to its owner.”

Now, Bachman just has to wait for the pandemic to subside before he can reunite with his beloved instrument.

“We have it all set to go,” Bachman told CTV News. “We’re just waiting for travel restrictions to ease up so we can go.”

Bachman said he wants to jam with Takeshi when he gets to Japan, CNN reported.

“This guy is my guitar brother. Takeshi is my brother,” Bachman told the news network. “I can’t even talk to him because he’s Japanese, he doesn’t understand me, but when we play the guitar together on Zoom, there’s this connection.”